5. Liver disease

Liver disease has trebled in England in the last 30 years, with an estimated cost to the NHS of approximately £460 million a year.

Liver disease morbidity and mortality are largely preventable but rely on early diagnosis and treatment requires engagement of primary care.  Effective prevention strategies or treatments are available for the three main causes of liver disease – alcohol, viral hepatitis and obesity. These decrease the risk of developing cirrhosis, liver cancer and their associated mortality.

This section is a work in progress and information will be added over the course of 2014. Current details include a factsheet on excess alcohol consumption.

NB: The following page represents work in progress and we will aim to develop this section further in due course.

Between 2001 and 2011, the number of people who died with an underlying cause of liver disease in England rose from 9,231 to 12,538. This represents a 36 percent increase in liver deaths during this period and is in contrast to other major causes of disease which have been declining. Although numbers of deaths due to cancer, vascular or respiratory disease are still much greater, liver disease kills people at a much younger age – 90 percent of people who die from liver disease are under 70 years old.

The most common underlying causes of death from liver disease are alcoholic liver disease and liver cancer (0.8 percent and 0.5 percent of all deaths).  Hepatitis and obesity are also major risk factors and people in the most deprived quintile of the population are 2.3 times more likely to die from liver disease.

Reducing mortality from liver disease will require concerted action across local communities to tackle lifestyle factors, as well as broader social factors which drive behaviours which impact on health risk.  NHS England plans to undertake further work with PHE to assess scope for reducing mortality from liver disease in 2014/15.

5.1   Support an alcohol reduction strategy

Issue: Evidence suggests that 9 out of 10 problem drinkers are not receiving any specialist support to reduce alcohol consumption and young people are disproportionately represented amongst those receiving support.

Suggested Action:  NHS commissioners to work with local authorities to develop a strategy for reducing alcohol consumption, including targeting problem drinkers.

Factsheet on management of excess alcohol consumption

Move on to section 6: Respiratory disease